Atwater Brewery continues craft brewing expansion

Growth and change are two words that have become commonplace at Atwater Brewery. Change from its freshly redone brand logo and plans to expand into distilling. Growth from its expanding production facility, beer sales, workforce and a new brew pub.

It has been growing aggressively the last two years. It has upped its brewing capacity from 7,000 barrels to 30,000 barrels. Last year it brewed 12,000 barrels of beer and is on track to brew another 22,000 barrels. The brewery's beers are currently in 15 states and its overall goal is to hit 100,000 barrels by 2015.

"The demand for our brand is hot," says Mark Rieth, owner of Atwater Brewery. "Plus local sales. About 60 percent of our sales are from Michigan."

That growth has allowed the company to hire six people over the last year, including workers in production, management and sales. It is currently accepting applications and expects to hire 15-20 people over the next two years. "We're always looking for good people," Rieth says.

The riverfront-based craft brewery (its located at the corner of Atwater and Jos Campau streets) got its start in 1997 as Atwater Block Brewery. Reith took control of it 2005 and started laying the groundwork for a large expansion. The brewery redid its logo last year to emphasize its Detroit roots.

"We have the Detroit skyline on our packaging," Rieth says. "Brewed in Detroit is on all of our logos."

Atwater Brewery is also working toward expanding its reach. The company is renovating a church in Grosse Pointe Park into a brewpub. Reith expects the biergarten portion to open by July and the overall facility to be done by the end of the year. The brewery is also looking at expanding its current production facility to a new building on the riverfront and opening a tap room in the downtown area, however, both projects are still in the preliminary planning stages.

What is for sure is Atwater Brewery's expansion into liquor production. The brewing is aiming to begin distilling its Dirty Blonde Vodka in the fourth quarter this year and a whiskey not long after it.

"We will be doing a full-range of spirits, including a white whiskey," Rieth says. "It's a whiskey that doesn't have the color. It's clear in color."

Source: Mark Rieth, owner of Atwater Brewery
Writer: Jon Zemke

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